Ship-Shape

We’re nearly half way through the year! May brought all sorts of adventures, including two of my favourite-ever poetry line-ups.

Rachael Briggs, Eleanor Jackson and I had great fun reading poems about sex and logic beside the picture-books section in the Wynnym Library at Poets Up Late.

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The next week, the band got back together for Sophie Tarrant‘s brain-child, Below Deck. Angela Peita, Eleanor Jackson, Ross Clark and I performed, with Rachael Briggs popping up on the open mic. This is literally a list of my favourite Brisbane poets, and that’s not hyperbole.

Even if that word makes you think of Chris Traeger.

Angela delivered a heart-stopping performance piece, Eleanor subbed in as my boyfriend for a poem (it was Rachael at Poets Up Late; I move fast), while Rachael and Miranda Sparks battled it out as performers reading from books on pet care. Fuck yeah, diverse poetry spaces! I’m definitely looking forward to next month’s Below Deck.

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Thank you, also, to Anna Jacobson for the awesome photos.

In the end I had a bit too much fun that week, health-wise, and now I’m back to writing poems in bed with tea. Fortunately, Warsan Shire was able to join me last week (via Skype) for a PJ party/mentorship sesh.

I’m gearing up (and resting up) for my July trip to the Black Forest Writing Seminars in Freiburg. The government’s massive budget cuts to the arts are hugely distressing to hear about; without ArtStart‘s support, there’s no way this chronically-ill weirdo poet would be able to take in this year’s travelling and mentorship opportunities, so it sucks to know that the future of support for artists in Australia is endangered.

Salt & Bone: A Blog Hop

Ms Kaitlyn Plyley, poet and comedian extraordinaire (also generally a great gal and my true Harry Potter Scene It! adversary), invited me along to her bloggy sock-hop. This is a selfie-interview — a chance to reflect on (and, perhaps, pitch) a current project; then, I tag a few more bloggers and send the blog hop on its way.

  1. What are you working on at the moment?
    My big announcement for 2014 is that Walleah Press will soon turn my manuscript, Salt and Bone, into a living, breathing, spine-y paper thing. We’re hoping to launch the book around July. I’ve finally stopped fiddling with punctuation and order-of-poems. (Ralph at Walleah has been very patient with me.) Bettina Marson is working away at the cover design, which — in keeping with the books Brisbaniness — will feature possums, curlews, stilts and mud. (You can see Bettina’s designs for my 2009 chapbook in her ink portfolio.)
  2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?
    I like to think — I hope, at least — that I’ve developed a distinct poetic voice: a Brisbane voice, concise-but-not-sparse, flexible enough for both page and stage. That would be the answer as far as poetry as concerned. As regards nonfiction, I hope my writing is getting more precise and, if I’m lucky, funnier.
  3. Why do you write what you write?
    I write poetry because choosing the lowest-paying category of arts (and in this budget climate) just seemed like fun! Jokes aside, I find poetry compelling as a craft that’s impossible to perfect; each poem is an impossible puzzle. I can work on them infinitely, chipping away. It’s satisfying in an it’ll-never-be-satisfying sense. I also write poetry because a) I enjoy reading poetry and b) it’s short. Creative nonfiction gives me space to research and mull over and really get my teeth into a topic. It’s very different from writing poetry, and that’s good.
  4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?
    I write a terrible first draft very quickly and then I spend millennia editing, fiddling, editing, proofing and putting-the-final-touches-on. This usually happens in the wee small hours, in bed with a good notebook.

Enough navel-gazing! Thank you for reading. Up next:

Michael Gerard Bauer: Michael is one of my favourite children’s/YA writers. His books are currently sold in over 20 countries including the USA and UK and translated into nine languages.

Sarah Gory: Sarah directs the Queensland Poetry Festival. Her blog, Highgate Hill Kitchen, started “as a way to document my cooking ventures, stay motivated to keep on trying new things in the kitchen, and share my daily stories.”

Eleanor JacksonEleanor is a performance poet who casts spells with her silky voice. Her most recent work, Now You See Me, was an interactive installation exploring the theme of queer visibility in visual art.

While we’re here, here’s a newish poem in Cordite’s No Theme III.

Anywhere Fest: Chosen Family

Poets Eleanor Jackson and Betsy Turcot (The Belles of Hell) wowed Brisbane at last year’s Anywhere Fest with She Stole My Every Rock ‘n’ Roll. This year, they’ve got a new poetic dialogue in store: Chosen Family.

Q. Describe your show in under 25 words.
A. Two women trading poetry about the strange, painful-beautiful of family, piecing together a montage of grainy family photographs and giving them a glossy finish. Photoshop for the soul, so to speak.

Q. Anywhere Festival is about making art everywhere. What makes your venue unique?
A.
 The venue (the beautiful back deck of Justice Products) is the perfect place for a Queensland family Christmas, complete with tin roof and timber decking. Spiral Community Hub, which operates Justice Products, is not just a beautiful shop, it’s an amazing community space that runs training, community workshops and supports local people to develop more sustainable lives. Might be a little cold though at night though, so we’ll try to warm you up with some tea. BYO bunny rug if you get chilly!

Chosen Family

Betsy and I are particularly interested in the Anywhere Theatre Festival for the way that it partners performers and community spaces, with great support from venues. It’s why we held She Stole My Every Rock ‘n’ Roll at Jet Black Cat — to support a queer local business, and this time at Spiral/Justice, because it’s got a great local community connection.

Q. If you could have your show run absolutely anywhere in the universe and at any point of history, where would you run it (after West End, of course)?
A.
 Well, There’s no time like the present, so Betsy and I would love to hit the Big Apple where her family could see us perform. Time to start fundraising!

Q. You and Betsy have brought the poetic dialogue to the fore in Brisbane — and perfected it. What does Chosen Family bring to the form?
A. (blush) In writing Chosen Family, we have thought about the simplest and clearest way to create space and connection between people — not by shouting each other down but making space for everyone to whisper. Because sometimes only when it’s quiet can you say true things.

CHOSEN FAMILY runs at Justice Earth Building, 192 Boundary St, West End from 16 to 18 May, 2013.